Shawn Decker: "Chorus" at the Lincoln Park Conservatory


Chorus  is a site-specific installation created for the Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago as part of the Experimental Sound Studio's Florasonic series curated by Lou Mallozzi.  This series puts an ambient sound installation each year in the conservatory's Fern Room delivered by a four channel sound system.

Program Notes from the installation:  Insects account for 85% of all known species of animals on the planet.  When we walk outdoors in the midwest we are surrounded by literally millions of insects, though we often are unaware of these tiny creatures.  If we do notice insects, we usually notice their sounds—sharp or droning, chirps or chatters.   

Chorus reflects my fascination with the abundance and lovely subtle noisiness of the nature world. In particular, insect sounds  are quiet, and minute – the primary way that we hear them is through the simultaneous sounds of many individuals.  In Chorus, I borrow from the insects in creating a work for the Fern Garden – using many simple components and small sounds, layered to form thicker strata, rhythms, swelling and dissipating structures as a collective voice. Some of the sounds that I use are taken directly from nature – field recordings I have made in a variety of prairie meadows, and forests here in Illinois.  Others are purely synthetic – the simplest of sounds that when combined together have the same effect of creating sound through their superimposition, their interference with one another, their “chorusing.” 

Another intent in Chorus is to supply what’s missing—insects are carefully excluded from the botanically rich conservatory environment. I also like to think my use of sonic strata as being inspired by the visual quality of the Fern Room with its dizzying layers of green abundance, and its many individual plants growing together to create the environment within. 

Read Alan Artner's review of Chorus in the Chicago Tribune

Listen to Audio Documentation (stereo recording, made in the conservatory):


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    Shawn Decker: "Chorus" at the Lincoln Park Conservatory    Shawn Decker: "Chorus" at the Lincoln Park Conservatory    Shawn Decker: "Chorus" at the Lincoln Park Conservatory    Shawn Decker: "Chorus" at the Lincoln Park Conservatory